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    A protestor gestures at police at Pioneer Square in Portland, Oregon on November 11, 2016, to protest the election of US President-elect Donald Trump.

    Trump's Militarization of Police Evokes Violent Ghost of Ferguson

    © AFP 2018 / Ankur Dholakia
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    The Trump administration's decision to restore the flow of surplus military gear to police has once again polarized the American society. While law enforcement officers laud Trump's latest executive order, a number of US politicians warned against sacrificing American liberty, stressing that the Fergusson lesson remained unlearned.

    On Monday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order lifting the Obama administration's ban on the Department of Defense 1033 program, which envisaged delivering military equipment to local and state police.

    The restrictions came in response to public outcry over the use of heavy military equipment by US law enforcement officers, as well as police racism and brutality during the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

    Republican Senator Rand Paul slammed the Trump administration's plan and stressed that "the Americans must never sacrifice their liberty for an illusive and dangerous, or false, security."

    The politician tweeted that he disagreed with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had announced the decision, on the necessity of reviving the Pentagon's 1033 program, warning against an "unprecedented expansion of government power" in the country.

    The American Civil Liberties Union's Kanya Bennett echoed the US politician, condemning "an epidemic… of using excessive force [by police], particularly against people of color, with injuries and deaths mounting" in the United States.

    "It defies logic to arm the police with weapons of war — grenade launchers, high-caliber assault weapons and more — but that's precisely what President Trump and Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions have decided to do," she said.

    According to Democratic politician Pramila Jayapal, the Ferguson lesson has not been learned; quite the contrary, the US president is seemingly "determined to reverse all of the progress" the US has made.

    Meanwhile, Sessions' announcement was largely endorsed by the FOP [Fraternal Order of Police], an organization consisting of sworn law enforcement officers in the United States.

    The organization emphasized that "as a candidate for president, Mr. Trump pledged to rescind these restrictions and Attorney General Sessions delivered on that promise."

    The National Sheriffs' Association echoed the FOP saying that they "applauded" Trump's actions.

    ​The Ferguson unrest erupted three years ago after the fatal shooting of an African-American teen, 18-year-old Michael Brown, by police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, formed in response to the acquittal of white neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman who shot dead African-American teen Trayvon Martin in 2012, constituted the core of the violent protest that swept across over 170 US cities with thousands taking to the streets.

    The protests further heated the debate about US police racism and brutality. President Obama's ban managed to assuage the debate, which has gained a second wind after clashes during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville on August 11-12.

    The event, aimed against the demolition of a statue of Confederate icon general Robert E. Lee, provoked fierce brawls between right-wing movement participants and counter-protesters. As a result of the clashes one woman died and nearly 20 others were injured.

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    Tags:
    violent protest, white supremacists, police militarization, US Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. Department of State, Jeff Sessions, Rand Paul, Donald Trump, Charlottesville, Ferguson, United States
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